Kristine Nolan ‘16, a Houghton College sophomore from Allegany, NY, went Top Ten in Half-Arabia Sport Horse In-Hand Mares Amateur to Handle in the 2013 AHA’s Sport Horse Nationals held in Lexington, VA September 18-22.
Along with Sport Horse In-Hand, Nolan also competed in dressage.
Nolan has been riding for 10 years, but this was her first year competing in dressage and in-hand at Training Level. “Since the very beginning of my riding career, I had been interested in dressage,” Nolan said. “I always read and looked at pictures of riders competing in the discipline, and I hoped that someday I'd be able to compete.”
Prior to the national competition, Nolan and her horse, Miss Congeniality, competed in six other shows this season at Training Level and won all of her classes. “We did very well and I could not be any happier,” Nolan said. “Miss is an absolute dream to work with and I would not be as far as I am without her. She's truly a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
For eight years, Nolan has been training with Shelly Ingalls, who owns a stable and training center in Phillips Creek, N.Y. Ingalls also competed at the AHA Sport Horse Nationals and has numerous titles and awards under her belt.
In the summer of 2010, Nolan was in a riding accident that put not only her riding on hold, but her whole life. She was diagnosed with Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy, a wide-spread chronic pain disorder that affected her whole body. She spent that summer in and out of the hospital, with a one week stay at Boston Children's Hospital and a three week stay at the Cleveland Clinic.
“I honestly wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to ride again,” Nolan said. “But, with the help of many doctors, physical therapists, my parents and my trainer I was able to get back in the saddle and resume riding again. It has been a very long and hard road to recovery, but I've made it this far, and I don't plan on giving up any time soon.”
Despite her medical complications, Nolan now holds two National Top Ten in Half-Arabian Sport Horse In-Hand, six regional championships and several Top Fives, as well as an East Coast Championship in Half-Arabian Training Level Dressage Amateur to Ride and many high-score awards regionally and locally.
“I'm very, very thankful to be where I am today.”
Last year Nolan took a competition dressage class at the Houghton College equestrian center. “That was the first time I was really able to work on dressage specifically,” Nolan said. “It was really awesome to be able to implement what I learned with my own horse.”
During this class, Nolan worked with Jo-Anne Young, Houghton College professor of physical education and equestrian program director. Young said that during the competition dressage class “Kristine worked on mastering half-halts using her body core muscles and gaining closer to perfect balance in her seat and in the horse. Obviously, that paid off.”
“Kristine's focus on and love of riding reflect her dedication and talent in her pursuit of excellence,” Young said. “We are delighted to congratulate her on this honor.”